Mokaflor’s third generation: an interview with Eleonora Bernini

Since its inception as a coffee roastery in the heart of Florence in the 1950s, Mokaflor has remained committed to delivering a premium coffee experience to its customers. However, as the coffee industry has evolved, so too has the definition of “quality.”

Today, Mokaflor faces a multifaceted set of challenges, including not only maintaining exceptional standards of product quality, but also addressing issues of sustainability and product traceability, and effectively communicating its story to a diverse audience, ranging from baristas to the end consumer. In an interview with Eleonora Bernini, granddaughter of Mokaflor’s founder, Vasco Bernini and a third-generation representative of the company, she shared with us the ambitious goals that Mokaflor sets for itself on a daily basis in order to excel in its endeavors.

Eleonora, it’s known that your family has a deep connection to this industry, but your own background is different. Can you share how you personally relate to coffee?

Mokaflor's third generation: an interview with Eleonora Bernini

Growing up, I was surrounded by the smell of coffee and spent a lot of time in the roastery, often playing among the coffee bags when I visited my father. Although I initially decided to pursue a different path by studying Marketing Management first in London and then in Florence, I then worked in the fashion industry for 7 years mainly in Munich.

However, I eventually returned to my roots and joined the coffee industry. I’ve been working for Mokaflor for almost 6 years now and literally fell in love with this product of nature, the people that work in this sector and all topics related to coffee!

An overview of Mokaflor at present: a company with a strong orientation towards exports. Can you give us some operational data?

Mokaflor began exporting in the 1990s, ANUGA being the first fair we ever participated to abroad. Germany still remains our primary market today but we also expanded to other German speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland. We sell over 400 tons of roasted coffee per year, with around 60% of it being exported and the remaining 40% distributed within Italy. In the last 20 years, we’ve expanded our export reach to countries all over the world, including Chile, China, the United States, Iran, the Czech Republic, Scandinavian countries, and the Philippines just to name a few.

Eleonora, leading a company with a strong heritage in the constantly evolving coffee industry will present a complex challenge. Can you share with us your vision for the future?

Mokaflor places a strong emphasis on quality and sustainability. My grandfather’s goal already back in the 1950s was to provide consumers with a high-quality coffee through a rich crema and proper roast.

Mokaflor's third generation: an interview with Eleonora Bernini

Today, we continue to prioritize quality while also focusing on sustainability throughout the entire process, from sourcing beans from partner plantations with whom we have direct relationships to partnering with importers who share our values. We prioritize environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, and recycling in our roasting process.

To achieve this, we work with organizations such as the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, Seven Elements permaculture coffees and other partners who value the importance of sustainability.

Let’s turn this vision into reality: how will Mokaflor’s products and services for customers evolve in the future?

At Mokaflor, we aim to continue on our path of developing coffee lines that are increasingly traceable, sustainable and tailored to the unique needs of our customers. Our goal is to avoid being perceived as “coffee snobs”, a common stereotype associated with specialty coffee roasters. We believe that the importance lies in connecting with all coffee enthusiasts, not just industry experts and professionals. We strive to be inclusive and approachable, while still maintaining our commitment to quality and sustainability.

Mokaflor's third generation: an interview with Eleonora Bernini

At Mokaflor, we aim to empower everyday coffee drinkers to understand the difference between good and bad quality coffee, much like how they make informed choices when selecting products like wine, bread, or pasta. Currently, there is limited information available about coffee in Italy.

Our goal is to change this by providing more information and tools to baristas, sellers, supermarkets and other points of sale, where the final consumer can make conscious choices when purchasing coffee. We want to educate and raise awareness about the importance of quality and sustainability, so that consumers can make informed decisions and truly appreciate their daily cup of coffee. 

Mokaflor was one of the founding companies of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance in Italy. What projects are you carrying out?

Mokaflor's third generation: an interview with Eleonora Bernini

Mokaflor is one of the founding companies of the Italian chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance.
The IWCA already existed worldwide and in the main countries that produce and consume coffee but, up until last year, not Italy, although it’s considered by many to be the homeland of coffee.

The International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) is an organization that focuses on supporting and raising awareness about the role of women in the coffee industry worldwide. Although the IWCA has been active in other countries, Italy had yet to establish a chapter until recently. The IWCA’s efforts in Italy include purchasing coffee grown on plantations led by women, as well as providing training and education throughout the supply chain. Additionally, the organization is currently focusing on projects that support women who have been affected by violence and war in Afghanistan and have fled to Italy. More information on these specific efforts will be shared in the coming months.

Any hidden dreams you’d like to fulfill? 

Several. One of the key challenges facing the coffee industry is educating consumers about the importance of choosing high-quality coffee. Despite its obvious importance, this message has not yet been effectively communicated to the general public.

Mokaflor's third generation: an interview with Eleonora Bernini

It is striking to observe how many people, even those who are well-educated and have traveled extensively, lack knowledge about coffee, despite it being the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. Through my work, I aim to educate and inform the public about the significance of choosing high-quality coffee. Not only does this impact the taste and health benefits, but it also has a profound impact on the farmers and communities in the countries of origin. My goal is to empower individuals to make conscious and informed choices when it comes to their coffee consumption.

As a coffee lover, one of my dreams is to establish a sustainable coffee plantation that utilizes permaculture principles. The focus would be on preserving the environment and working in harmony with nature, using techniques such as intercropping, insect management, and water conservation. I envision creating a Mokaflor plantation and educational center where farmers can learn about permaculture and the potential for sustainable coffee cultivation in the face of current and future challenges.